New Al­bums

A se­lec­tion of new and reis­sued gui­tar re­leases, in­clud­ing Al­bum Of The Month

Guitar Techniques - - REVIEW -

Al­bum of the month ERJA LYYTINEN STOLEN HEARTS Tuohi Records ✪✪✪✪✪

For her 10th stu­dio al­bum the Fin­nish blues gui­tarist wanted to “break out of Helsinki and work with an es­tab­lished Bri­tish pro­ducer.” En­ter Chris Kim­sey of Stones, Framp­ton and Bad Com­pany fame. To­gether they’ve cre­ated what Erja calls “the best al­bum of my ca­reer.” We agree! Packed with gui­tar from the off, her no-non­sense style is im­me­di­ately to the fore on the ti­tle track opener with its de­scend­ing neck pickup fig­ure, bridgedriven chords and riff. Great Hen­drixy feel here. The Hen­drix vibe con­tin­ues on Rock­ing Chair with its un­usual 7/8 verse, ballsy vo­cals and dis­torted slide har­monies. Ex­cel­lent slide solo too. Space doesn’t al­low for full track de­scrip­tions but Love Lab­o­ra­tory is crammed with gor­geous, of­ten sur­pris­ing chords, funky strum­ming and fan­tas­tic vo­cals. She’s a great player and the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Kim­sey has re­ally paid off; pro­duc­tion is huge and mu­si­cal, tones are fab­u­lous, and al­most ev­ery track is a stand-out. Fan­tas­tic from start to fin­ish.


With the sad demise of his band, the ti­tle of ex-Ea­gles’ bassist Ti­mothy B Schmit’s new al­bum is wryly ap­pro­pri­ate (check the lyrics of last track, This Waltz). Recorded with co-pro­ducer Hank Linderman it’s a heart­felt col­lec­tion of songs from Schmit, whose high tenor voice pow­ered, among oth­ers, Love Will Keep Us Alive and (the track he in­her­ited from Randy Meis­ner), Take It To The Limit. From opener My Hat, a la­conic num­ber whose tight har­monies are more CS&Y than Ea­gles, it’s clear that a lot has gone into this col­lec­tion. All songs are by Schmit, but given his Ea­gles and Poco back­ground the laid-back coun­try-es­que vibe is no sur­prise. With im­pec­ca­ble vo­cal har­monies (The Is­land is Bea­tles meets Beach Boys), guest spots from pedal steel leg­end Paul Franklin (Good­bye My Love), and vi­bra­phone master Gary Bur­ton (Slow Down), plus Schmit’s own acous­tic sound­ing very sweet (It’s Al­right is just voice and gui­tar), this is a very pleas­ing lis­ten in­deed.


In­stru­men­tal al­bums can fall into the ‘meh’ camp, where the gui­tar is so dis­torted and speedy that the qual­ity of the com­po­si­tions, band in­ter­play and gen­eral va­ri­ety be­come pedes­trian. Not the case with 29-year-old Cana­dian gui­tarist Nick John­ston who, while hav­ing im­pres­sively slip­pery le­gato and string skip­ping chops, has cre­ated an epic sound­ing al­bum. Not only are the com­po­si­tions melodic and crisply pro­duced (prog, Amer­i­cana, blues, alt rock, film and fu­sion in­flu­ences) but he knows how to get a rich sin­gle-coil over­drive tone that ex­poses ev­ery nu­ance of his ar­tic­u­late mu­si­cal­ity. In­volv­ing prog rock masters Gavin Har­ri­son (drums), Bryan Beller (bass) and Luke Martin (pi­ano) adds con­sid­er­able dy­nam­ics to tracks like Im­pos­si­ble Things and Poi­son Touch. If you like ma­ture gui­tar mu­sic (Jeff Beck, Jimmy Her­ring, Allen Hinds, etc) Nick John­ston comes highly rec­om­mended.


This prodi­giously tal­ented blues gui­tarist re­cently fea­tured in Gui­tarist mag­a­zine’s Start Me Up fea­ture. Gui­tarist was amazed at the ma­tu­rity, in both play­ing and at­ti­tude, from a young man who hasn’t yet reached his 18th birth­day. Hav­ing played on stage with Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks and even opened for BB King, Quinn has clearly drawn from his in­flu­ences and honed his play­ing to the ex­tent that this, his third al­bum, may just break him as an in­ter­na­tional blues star. The ma­te­rial varies from down­home blues to a more pop-ori­ented John Mayer style, but it’s all held to­gether by Quinn’s for­mi­da­ble chops. Check out Mid­night High­way, and his out­stand­ing note-for-note trib­ute to Ge­orge Har­ri­son (and Eric Clap­ton) on While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps; a tes­ta­ment to his ded­i­ca­tion and pre­co­cious at­ten­tion to de­tail. Lis­ten and be amazed! If you’re into Mayer and Bona­massa, you’ll love this!

LITE CU­BIC Top Shelf Records ✪✪✪ ✪✪

Lite is a (largely) in­stru­men­tal four piece that fea­tures Nobuyuki Takeda on gui­tar and Kozo Kusumoto on gui­tar/syn­the­siser. This is no rock quar­tet with never-end­ing shred so­los though; it’s an in­ter­lock­ing band that leans heav­ily on melodic and rhyth­mic pat­terns. Lite will as read­ily ref­er­ence min­i­mal­is­tic com­posers like Steve Re­ich and Phillip Glass, as mod­ern ‘tex­tu­ral’ bands like An­i­mals As Lead­ers. At times there’s an in­trigu­ing mix of naivety (sim­ple phrases, punky strum­ming, square syn­co­pa­tions, nods to­ward ’80s pop) and real mastery (the pris­tine clean gui­tars are rem­i­nis­cent of MIDI se­quencers or sam­ple and hold synths). The gui­tar parts are of­ten clever, both in iso­la­tion and knit­ted to­gether with the drums and bass. The most in­trigu­ing tracks are the Else with its jud­der­ing rhythms; An­gled (brings to mind the band Tele­vi­sion); the funky D (tight bass and gui­tar), and Zero with its new-wave groove and unique vo­cal per­for­mance.

MI­NUS THE BEAR VOIDS Sui­cide Squeeze ✪✪✪ ✪✪

De­spite a 15-year, six al­bum ca­reer, Mi­nus The Bear may be a new band in the eyes of some. They’re cer­tainly in­ter­est­ing with in­flu­ences rang­ing from NY punk, hip-hop, IDM (In­tel­li­gent Dance Mu­sic; early ‘90s blend of elec­tronic and break­beat) and prog. Gui­tarist Dave Knud­son is a con­sid­ered player, as able with syn­co­pated riffs as two-hand tap­ping. Opener, Last Kiss fea­tures back­ward de­lay, chim­ing chords and stacked over­driven tones. Give & Take has a half-time beat with gui­tar stabs rem­i­nis­cent of mod­ern prog pop and an oc­tave ef­fected solo that could have come from Yes’s Trevor Rabin. In­vis­i­ble is stacked with hold de­lay gui­tar strums, driven chord stabs and panned tapped phrases. Sil­ver fea­tures syn­co­pated re­verb drenched in­ter­val riffs and per­haps the al­bum’s most conventional rock solo with uni­son bends and ‘slid into’ notes. Voids might just be the al­bum that nods to both An­i­mals As Lead­ers’ ef­fected gui­tars and the elec­tronic in­fused pop ar­range­ments of Ev­ery­thing Ev­ery­thing.

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